Ever thought about becoming a naturist?
I have never been particularly comfortable in my own skin until really quite recently. In my twenties I would have thought twice about wearing a bikini, never mind leaving my clothes in the changing room before stepping on to the beach, but now… well, it seems I’ve over it.
Last weekend I threw caution and my clothes to the wind and took the plunge, quite literally, when I visited a naked spa.
Naked you say? What no swimming costume? OH! You mean NO clothes, at all?
Yes! That is exactly what I mean.
I was introduced to this idea by Napoleon.
Napoleon it seems, is a regular visitor to all things naked and this particular venue is one of his favourites. Now would probably be a good time to mention (well as good as any)that this particular venue is very open-minded and super-relaxed, they have rest rooms for patrons who might feel the need to have a ‘lie down’ or not and very liberal ideas about space-saving.
I am not so naïve as to think that this far from luxurious establishment (I googled it), was catering for the exclusive and sophisticated among us, who just want to chill and relax, far away from our hectic lifestyles, some time to reflect and recharge, that it would be bright and airy with whale song filtering through the building, while people sipped champagne and ate ripened strawberries. Oh No! It was much more likely to be dimly lit with dark coloured towels and a snack bar serving tap water and kit-kats. I knew exactly what this was going to be all about!
Actually the website was quite informative and while it didn’t state the bleeding obvious it was very bleeding obvious exactly what goes on inside the confines of its Romanesque interior.
I told Napoleon in no uncertain terms that I wasn’t sure this kind of thing was for me, but…
It is like when someone says don’t look, what do you immediately want to do?
I was sitting right on the fence and I couldn’t decide which side I wanted to jump off, safe and secure or new and exciting?
The trouble with new and exciting is that when you don’t know what to expect you expect the worst. and there is nothing quite as terrifying as the unknown.
The unknown has a way of forcing you to think of the worst possible case scenario, then it amplifies it by 100, until you have a fear so intense it is almost palpable. This is dependant of course on what it is you are about to face because even when something is scary it can also be exciting, so mixing the two together can leave you with a lethal concoction of adrenaline coursing through your veins.
However, after much discussion I decided that I would indeed accompany Napoleon to a couples evening at the spa, all I had to do now was prepare myself mentally (and do some serious body maintenance) for what was to come. If only I knew what that was? On the plus side the being naked thing was seeming a lot less alarming now with the sudden realisation that we might be getting up close and personal at this establishment and not just with ourselves. The thought of mixing and mingling with others? Crikey! How the hell did that come about?
In advance Napoleon set out to reassure me that whatever happens or doesn’t happen will be at my say so. If I get there and don’t want to stay we leave, simple. If I decide to stay, nothing happens without me being 100% comfortable. I am in charge, he says. Oh this is a new, I reply.
So, as you can probably imagine my anxiety levels were off the chart, as I exfoliated myself until I was almost translucent in the shower the following morning.
After buffing and de-fluffing and pruning and preening, I stood naked in front of the mirror and stared at my reflection, I’ve seen worse. I have also seen better but clinging on to the belief that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and hoping that most of the naked folk would be of the everyday variety and not those that have just stepped of a catwalk, I pulled on some jeans and a blouse. I didn’t really feel the need for underwear, I was going for quick, in and out, none of that awkward twisted bra shit that happens when your body is all sticky from being half dry.
I was actually feeling pretty body confident.
However, that is not to say that I didn’t have any concerns at all. I am human and while it was lovely not to have to decide if I should wear a two piece or a one piece, a strapless or a thong (as if), I had plenty of other worries.
I was much more worried about being flat-footed and what all that sodding steam was going to do to my hair. I knew that the minute I walked within one hundred paces of a steam room or a jacuzzi my hair was going to turn in to a ball of yellow candyfloss, all my natural curliness springing eagerly to attention up around my ears. The tumbled-dried look, all fluff and no shape. It’s a corker! I know this sounds incredibly vain but I can walk around all day long with no clothes on, but fuck my hair up and I’m a quivering wreck. Take away my heels and I feel less like a woman than if I suddenly started growing hair on my chest and I never go anywhere and I mean anywhere without mascara! In hindsight I feel very differently about this now but more on that later…
I made for terrible company on the journey there, I was shitting myself and there was no hiding it. I could barely concentrate on the conversation, my mind kept wandering off in to a little world of naked debauchery and torment. I was nervous and just plain scared that I would find the whole thing absolutely terrifying.
The thing that worried me the most was my inability to cause a scene. I mean imagine if I get there, I get in the door (without throwing up), manage to remove all my clothes (without passing out), and walk in to a room full of naked people and what…. what then? I suddenly think shit, I can’t do this and run screaming through the building still wrapped in a horrible dark coloured towel and end up standing in the street wondering where I left the car. No. It is much more likely that I will politely just navigate my way through it all without so much as a murmur of discomfort for fear of drawing attention to myself. Not that being naked isn’t enough of a reason for people to stare at you.
However, the reality of it all was a little underwhelming if I’m honest.
On arrival at reception, which was actually just a tiny space that had been blocked off between the huge Edwardian style front door and the secure door (released by unsmiling young girl upon payment and presumably the entrance to the forbidden world beyond) did not give the air of a relaxed and harmonious environment. The grilled window between us and Little Miss Unsmiling was reminiscent of a county jail and as she took our payment and handed us two dark red towels (Oh God! I was right, no fluffy white towels here) she buzzed us in to the next room.
If I thought this was going to in any way similar to an ordinary spa in an ordinary hotel, I was wrong and as I was presented with a room full of lockers it was obvious that this was where we would be disrobing. Standing awkwardly in front of Napoleon while I grabbed 30 seconds to take stock of my surroundings and waited for some people, who seemed to be leaving, to leave. I contemplated how I was going to take my clothes of with a modicum of elegance and present myself in my Maroon towel, how should I wear my towel, to the side or to the front? Did it matter? I was not about to parade out in the swimwear section of Miss World.
I want to make good impression. Weird?
In the end I just decided to go for it and as Napoleon, who was wrapped up as if he had just blown in from Moscow, unbuttoned his coat I took opportunity to whip my jeans off quick. By the time he was unravelling his burgundy scarf I was already naked and reaching for my towel. Napoleon stopped for a moment to appreciate me and I suddenly realised that we had never been properly naked together, and despite the fact that we have been out a few times and we have had fun, we have never seen each other in all our glory and it was erm, quite erotic, actually. Just then a big burly fella came in with his towel over his shoulder and brought us back to reality.
Now I was in a room with two penises!
A little frisson of I don’t know what went through my body as I wondered what was around the corner?
Napoleon who was finally ready grabbed a small bag and my hand. Ready? He said. NO! I’m not ready. Laughing he kissed me and told me I would be fine, he would look after me. You had bloody better, I said. What’s in the bag? He opened it and showed me the contents, condoms and lube, of course. Sometimes I wonder if I really am 47 and I am not still a child in a woman’s body. Why didn’t I know that? In my bag I have hairspray, lip gloss and some hygiene wipes along with a few other things that I probably wont need.
Am I really going to want to hang around after this to fix my hair?
Taking a deep breathe I let him lead me in to the lounge where I was greeted by half a dozen couples all rocking the burgundy towel look, some better than others. Everyone looked very relaxed, some were on sofas chatting and others were just wandering around. OK, so this isn’t so bad. At least I wasn’t faced with a room full of nude bits straight away, I could take some time to acclimatise while we got some water from the cooler and made small talk for a bit, as you do!
A little voice inside me kept reminding me that there was more to come, that I shouldn’t get too comfortable as I haven’t seen the half of it yet…